Sunday, January 5, 2014

Be THAT mom

One of the reasons I am slow to post lately is that...drumroll please...we have a new computer!

Which should be the best news ever.  And it IS.

But the learning curve with this puppy is throwing me for a loop.  It is an HP Envy - 17" laptop with touch screen.  So after nearly 7 years working on a MacBook, I am teaching myself how to 1. Work with a PC and 2. learn how to work between a keyboard and touchscreen efficiently.

I'm getting there...but it is taking time.
I Love this!
Tonight my youngest son got sick.  He was moving SLOW before and after dinner and was out of sorts.  We can always count on him to clean his plate and have boundless energy until the bitter end (ie: bedtime) but tonight he was rubbing his eyes and at one point fell asleep cuddled into me on the couch.  My mama heart was warm.  He is a very busy 4 year old boy with precious little time for cuddling.  So even though I could tell he wasn't at his best, I loved that brief time on the couch.

And then 10 minutes after my cuddles he threw up.  ALL over the couch.

Which wasn't a big deal because, come on.  We have 4 kids.  This stuff happens.  My husband and I have the triage team thing down to a science. 

I cleaned up the boy, we worked on the couch/floor and then I took him upstairs for a shower.  He was so lethargic and was happy to lay in my arms afterwards, wrapped up in a towel.  And THAT right there is maybe one of the best parts of being a mom.  Making your child feel safe and secure and clean and warm.  Where they feel like everything is going to be OK because MOM is here.  That is the best.  And that stuff is when I am at my best.  That's when I'm fully present and the kind of mom I want them to remember.

I have noticed, with my older kids in particular, that the memories we are making as a family never seem to include stuff we have bought or even places we have been.  The kids remember FEELINGS.  My oldest is almost 11 and even with that short life he has nostalgia for certain places or foods or events - and it is always tied to how he FELT in that moment.  I want to commit to remembering to be the mom that inspires happiness and zest and creativity and warmth and JOY.  I want to be the mom I want them to remember.

My oldest son was sick recently in Utah over our Christmas vacation.  It was a weird 8 hour flu thing - throwing up, fever, chills, pain - the whole 9 yards.  And naturally he wanted mom at 4 AM :).  I ended up making him a little bed in the bathroom so that he could be near the toilet but could at least lay down.   As I was getting him situated, in his feverish sick state he started telling me about ALL of the other times he has been sick and I have been there to take care of him.  And how thankful he is for that.

Seriously.  THAT is the good stuff right there.  I'm not a fan of vomit or breathing machines late at night or runny noses.  Or of struggles with friends and bad grades and forgetfulness.  But I am a HUGE fan of my kids and all of their quirks and personality.  And this time is passing by so fast.  SO fast.  In a little over a decade all of my children will be out on their own and the time for intense mothering will most likely be over.  They will be on to new adventures and friends and even families as they create their own lives and loves.  And I WANT them to remember mom in all the best possible ways.  It's important to me.

So today I commit to being a more present mom.  More compassionate.  More forgiving.  More creative and adventurous than I already am :)  So that someday when they think on the word "mom"...there are lots of warm memories that are attached to my name.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Hi friends :)

I feel like I have been a negligent host of late.  Well...for several months actually.  One of my goals in the coming year is to pay more attention to this space of the interwebs that I own.  This is a place that acts as my design journal, landing spot for ideas, journal...everything.  Over the holidays I had some delightful downtime and found myself getting newly inspired by some new-to-me blogs.  I REALLY appreciate fresh inspiration.  SO...I promise to be more attentive and really make this blog as beautiful and helpful as I know it can be.

So without further ado, welcome 2014! 

2013 was a stretchy kind of year.  Does that even make sense?  I guess that I mean 2013 stretched me I some new ways, painful ways at times.  There were a lot of ups and downs.  There were many times throughout the year when my husband and I would look at each other and say "Is this really happening?".  Or "What on earth is going on?". 

The good news is we came out of 2013 stronger, braver, more excited about the future than perhaps any other year before.  And that is always a good thing.

I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me personally, and for my family.  BRING IT :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Retro Christmas

Retro, Vintage Christmas Art Prints by Paulo & Lulu

How adorable are these retro-feel prints.  For more info on these go here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A view of our tree this year...

We have a 9 foot artificial tree that we bought 6 years ago.  About 5 years ago 1/4 of the lights went out :).  Each November we talk about how we should probably get a new tree...and then we never do it because we just don't care enough.  I mean, if we string up a few extra white lights (and this year fushia lights), you can't really tell! 

Our tree is an eclectic mixture of 1st Christmas ornaments from our NYC days, ornaments the kids have made, favorites from Anthropologie (there are many...) and a VERY VERY long handmade fabric garland.  Like if the house was going to burn down I might try to save that garland because it was a labor of love. 

Our family really loves putting up the tree each year; this tree is steeped in nostalgia.

Merry Merry :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas in the Vineyards...

As you know, I love where I live.  We are close to Napa Valley, surrounded by lovely hills and lush vineyards.  In addition to our beautiful surroundings, we are still about 25 minutes to Berkeley, 40 minutes to San Francisco (if traffic is on our side). 

This year an adorable family from Oregon decided to set up a Christmas tree farm in one of the vineyard spaces down the street from where we live.  I am not sure there is a more beautiful location for a Christmas tree farm than in a vineyard.  Seriously.  It's dreamy.


 I snapped this picture of our happy Christmas tree farm while on a walk.  Wow, Noble Firs are gorgeous.

I just love this time of year.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Count your Blessings...

It was a quiet Thanksgiving.  We participated in our town Turkey Trot in the morning (and turned in some nice performances I might add.  My 10 year old is crazy speedy at this 5K business - he PR'd with a time of 21:54).  Then we cleaned up and COOKED.  It was just the 6 of us.  So the house was filled with the sound of the Macy's Day Parade on TV, smells of pies and stuffing cooking, sights of our twinkling Christmas tree.  Add some luxurious naps, dinner around 5 and a family viewing of my new favorite Christmas movie "Elf" and that was Thanksgiving 2013.

We don't live near family; in our nearly 16 years of marriage we never have.  Most of the year I don't mind the distance but at Thanksgiving I do.  I feel like Thanksgiving is the ONE holiday when most extended families come together.  Although our family of 6 normally feels really boisterous and busy...on Thanksgiving it feels a little small.  I found that I was feeling a bit blue most of Thursday and decided to take stock of my feelings towards the end of the day.  My husbands family is mostly in Utah; mine is in Virginia.  Some of my best friends still live in NYC or the East Coast.  And the friends that we have here in California cling to their extended families during the holidays.  So I was feeling alone.

Which was when I decided to "count your many blessings, name them one by one".  I have so much to be grateful for.  I decided not to let one day influence my feelings about Thanksgiving and the blessings that have been bestowed on me and my family.

When in doubt, just count your many many blessings.  "And it will surprise you what the Lord has done".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Kitchen Cabinet Remodel!

I have been absent because of a recent and huge DIY project.  Yes...I painted my kitchen cabinets.  All of them.  In Cece Caldwell Chalk Paint Seattle Mist.  It was an incredible experience and I am thrilled with the outcome.

(Vintage-look stools at the island from - purchased last year for $70.  That was for BOTH and even included shipping. is the BOMB)

Last year I added bead board around three sides of my island and the ends of my upper cabinet and one lower cabinet.  Of all the things I did in this kitchen, the fitting in of the bead board was the most challenging.  Pieces had to be cut carefully, there was lots of sanding - it was a long process mainly because I had never done it before and had no idea WHAT I was doing.   I purchased the bead board at Home Depot for a total cost of $140.  It has given the island and ends a much more substantial and custom look.

Last year I also added new handles to all of my drawers - 14 handles total at $5 a piece from Lowes for a total of $70.

And see those bun feet?  I installed those too - it gives the cabinets a more custom look.  They were each $5 at Home Depot and I installed 6, for a total of $30.  I still have 3 more to set in but I'm happy with the ones that are in now.

The way the light from my kitchen window hits the cabinets make them seem like they are glowing.  That is the beauty of chalk paint.  You get the chalk paint color but also whatever was underneath - they appear very layered and aged, which is the exact look I was going for.  The bottles that you see are all vintage and from various flea markets over the years.  The grey window is OLD and from a friend.

I removed the small cabinet doors over the microwave and instead filled the space with a dozen old bottles, collected form all over the place.  We never really used this space for storage because it was in an awkward place to access so turning it into a display worked great.  I love the contrast of the clear/blue/green bottles against the aged grey chalk paint.  The Schwepps box is vintage and from my favorite Napa antique store, Antiques on Second.  The Green Valley sign was painted by a local artist on reclaimed barn wood; I purchased it 2 years ago and love how it captures the spirit of where we live.

This is the window over my sink.  I made the over sized valance from burlap and then appliqued a piece of an antique feed sack from Lancaster County, PA (which is where both of my parents grew up). 

My multi layered and very ornamented chandelier in the eating area.  It's "garnishes" change with the season and is my favorite part of the whole kitchen.

One thing that was a hugely helpful purchase and is not pictured here were the chrome slider shelves by Rev-a-shelf, sold at Lowes.  We bought three units priced at $100 each and they are AWESOME. 

The system we bought looks like this:

Totally worth every penny.  Next month I am going to add 4 more to my kitchen island.  Seriously, if you don't have these you need to get some.  Also, they are simple to install.  Read the instructions carefully; I actually watched a youtube video on how to install and it was hugely helpful.

Finally, I was sick of my two trashcans in the kitchen - one for recycling and one for regular trash.  They were constantly moving around and the latch on one of them had been broken for awhile.  So I invested in a really strong trashcan that looks like a piece of furniture in our kitchen. 

 I purchased the Simple Human Recyclers and we love it.  If you can love a trashcan, that is.   I purchased it at Bed Bath and Beyond for $150.

So the total cost breakdown for my kitchen redo is as follows:

Bead board (added 1 year ago) - $140
Cabinet Hardware (added 1 year ago) - $70

2012 - $210

Cece Caldwell Chalk Paint in Seattle Mist (2 containers) - $78
Semi Gloss Polyurethane (2 containers) - $34
Foam Brushes - $20
Rev-a-Shelf chrome organizer units (3 units) - $300
Wood bun feet for cabinets - $30
Simple Human Trashcan - $150

2013 - $612


For $822 I am thrilled with my kitchen.  Yes, I need to get new counters but that will come with time.  I LOVE the color of the cabinets.  I love my new shelves and trashcan and decor - I literally would not change a thing. 

Next kitchen table and chairs redo.  I had to - I was on a major painting binge! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Here Here!!!

I'm here!  I have been working on the biggest DIY project of my life these past two weeks and it is FINALLY finished. 

I redid all of my kitchen cabinets in chalk paint.  Grey chalk paint to be exact.

It was a HUGE undertaking.  And now it is DONE.

I love it.  My family adores it.  My heart does this little leap whenever my eyes happen upon my cabinets as I am walking through that part of the house.  Seriously, so proud.

I can't wait to share pictures of this undertaking.  Please be patient - just a few more days!  And then I'm fully back!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Little Pumpkins

We had a few Halloween parties/activities this weekend.  I was telling a friend that I have no problem spending a little coin on Halloween costumes each year because 1) between Halloween night itself and the requisite 3-4 parties for school/church/neighborhood those costumes get a lot of use and 2) they end up using/wearing their costumes throughout the year.

With that, here are my 4 this year:

  1. Jazz musician.  Basically, my son is not wearing a costume.  The only thing we bought were sunglasses; a friend drew on his mustache and goatee.  He actually walked around one Halloween party playing his saxaphone - people gave him money :)
  2.  Rapunzel.  Thank you Costco - my African daughter has been begging for long blond hair since she could say the words.  She was in heaven.
  3. Cleopatra.  The most intricate costume of my four kids this fall but she looked gorgeous and had so much fun.  And I say if you are going to go as Cleo, you need to do the wig too.  Commit!
  4. Spiderman.  This was the ONLY option for my son.  He had one costume request and this was it.  Man he looked cute.
This was one of the first years I haven't dressed up with something.  Not even a wig.  Mama is tired I guess.  Plus my oldest daughter requires full makeup and hair so by the time everyone is finished I'm just happy to be out the door!

Hope that you all have a great Halloween week.  Ride the sugar rush wave!

Friday, October 25, 2013


I have a confession.  I HATE carving pumpkins.  I may have to ask my mother to confirm this, but I think I hated it as a child too.  I am NOT interested in slaving away with a knife/cutting implement and then scooping out pumpkin guts in the name of making a Halloween creation.  I may be very creative...but this is one activity that does not float my boat.

As a result of my Halloween pumpkin-carving-hatred, I am naturally drawn to other pumpkin decorating options.  Here then is a round-up of some of my favorites for this season.

Option 1 - The Googly Eyes Pumpkin!  This is SUPER easy to achieve; a lot of eyes for a lot of look!  (For more info on this look, please check out this months edition of HGTV Magazine)

Option 2 - The Mummy Pumpkin!  Again, super easy and the result is A LOT of look!  Just take medical gauze and wrap up a pumpkin. Add some giant googly eyes and wham bam thank you m'am you are DONE!
Style House & Homes: Pumpkin Decorating
Option 3 - The Glamorous Pumpkin!  If you are interested in a slightly more upscale look then grab some cans of fall themed metallic spraypaint and have at it.  (Check out this blog for more great pumpkin ideas)

Option 4 - Chevron Pumpkins!  If you have a steady hand, this is a simple pattern to sketch onto your pumpkin and then fill in with paint.  Or spraypaint the whole pumpkin white and THEN add the chevron stripes.  Again, a lot of impact for just a little work.

Halloween: Pumpkin Decorations

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Room Tour: Bathroom Redo!

 (metal letters purchased years ago from Urban Outfitters)

We have an upstairs hall bathroom that services 4 kids.  We inherited the bathroom when we bought the house and haven't done much to it.  The previous owners replaced the builder grade vanity with something a little nicer (though not my taste) and then installed a concrete counter.  They upgraded the toilet and added crown molding.  All in all, it's a fine bathroom...just not what I would have chosen if I had the choice.

When it came to freshening up this bathroom, I decided to go colorful and inexpensive.  I mean, come on - it is for 4 kids ages 4-10.  I was not going to pour money into the venture.  When I want to freshen, I always turn 1) what I've already got by way of decor in my house and 2) Target.

For my shower curtain and bathmat I turned to Target.  I picked up this chevron curtain and LOVE the punch of color it gives this otherwise average bathroom.  I also picked up lots of new towels in both white and yellow and a new garbage can.  We were making progress!

The framed art over the toilet is made by moi and it was VERY simple.  I took a bunch of fabric scraps from my stash and pieced them together, glued them to a board and framed them.  30 minutes tops.  The blue round iron piece was something we had in the garage from decorating long ago; I freshened it up with some turquoise spray paint.  The iron tin holding toilet paper sits on the toilet tank; I picked it up at a favorite Utah haunt called Taipan Trading.

I picked up these little faux plants at Taipan Trading years ago.  They sit on the windowsill in the bathroom.  The rhino toy belongs to my 4 year old boy.  I guess he likes it there :)

More of those awesome chevron print towels from Target.  Wooden giraffes purchased from a random import shop in NYC Union Square a few years ago.

I have no idea where this lovely soap dispenser came from but isn't it nice?

I realize that there is A LOT more I could do to this bathroom but for right now I am satisfied.  It looks nice for the kids, it is a happy colorful place and it is clean.  That fits the bill for a kids bathroom in my book!